Adventures in Dressmaking: 5 tips for getting into your sewing groove

Thursday, May 29, 2014

5 tips for getting into your sewing groove

I find that time flies when I'm sewing, but sometimes it's hard to turn away from the computer and focus on my projects when I have a few hours to myself. So I've been thinking (after this lovely long weekend we just had, when I worked toward several sewing goals), how can we focus more, or more often, on sewing in a way that's fun and relaxing rather than stressful or burdensome?

Back in January I posted about my sewing resolutions this year - several things I wanted to remind myself to do right, for better results! Those resolutions were mostly about sewing quality and ease, but #4 was "Schedule time." I'm still working on that one, so  thoughts about this post have been guiding me on that one!

While my sewing resolutions were about quality, this post - 5 tips for getting into a sewing groove! - is about efficiency in sewing, and enjoyment of it. Because most of us are probably doing this because it's fun, and most of us probably do it as a hobby so we have to fit it in between other things! So let's do it efficiently, and keep it fun. Get into a groove!



Here are 5 ways I've found I can get focused, get sewing, and have fun!

5 tips for getting into your sewing groove


1. Set aside time (this one's obvious), within reason. 

Of course part of the problem is that we don't have enough time for everything, so of course we don't have 6 spare hours to spend working on a dress or slipcover or whatever. Unfortunately we often have to break up sewing sessions into multiple days (or stay up really late, if that's your thing). So find a compromise! Give yourself a good amount of time (even if you don't have quite enough for the perfect length of time), and do tips 2 and 3...

2. Pick a goal milestone to reach. 

My mom always talked about getting projects to the "hanger stage." Like, a success worth mentioning was that she got two garments to the hanger stage that afternoon, ready to hang them on hangers and get them out of the way to make room for other work. (Also a win: the "try-on stage"!)You may not finish your project, but if you can get it to the point where you know you'll like how it looks, it's a lot less stressful to put it down.

You can also...

3. Find your happy sewing time. 

Some of us are "morning people," others work better late at night. Think back to when you had school deadlines or other big projects to do - did you do your best work first thing on the weekend, or did you prefer to stay up later than usual to really focus and cram? It may be that that timeframe still works best for you for today's projects, like sewing rather than math homework.

4. Find media you enjoy. 

I love getting into the zone on evenings by myself with Mindy Project or Modern Family marathons, or Gilmore Girls if I want to go back even further in syndication... or, I turn on Pandora to a station I'm in the mood for and enjoy that if I need to focus more on the project. I also have a nice ritual of Saturday morning catching up to my favorite podcasts that aired Thursday and Friday, often while sewing or doing chores. (Faves: Pop Culture Happy Hour from NPR and Balanced Bites.)

As for strategizing and working more efficiently (listening to TV shows is not geared at increasing efficiency, just enjoyment!)...

5. Cut out more than one project at once. (But not more than a manageable amount.) 

For most of us, cutting is a pain because unless you have a tall, large, clear table to use, you may be doing it on the floor or on a cramped table space, and you may have to move things out of the way to get enough room. Also, cutting is often the hardest part of a project, and you need concentration (or at least the right mindset and a big chunk of time) to do it right. Big chunks of time and concentration  are not always rich around here. So I like to design a few projects and let them accumulate in my cutting list, then cut out 2 or 3 at once. (Sometimes I'm even using the same pattern for a couple of them, which is extra handy--only have to get it out once and can sometimes use one lining as a pattern for the other dress!)


They may be easier said than done at times! But, thinking about tips really helps me have fun and get lots done when I want to!

What are your tips for getting to work at the sewing table?? I'd love to hear!

26 comments :

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  1. Love this post! I always listen to music or podcasts when I'm sewing. I can't get into the groove without it :)

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  2. I also try to cut a few project in one go... it's just to keep me sane!

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  3. thanks for this advice! it might be just what I needed.

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  4. I never used to have a dedicated sewing space so every time I wanted to work on a project I had to pull everything out of the closet then put everything back when I was finished. It was definitely a deterrent to sitting down and sewing for short periods of time. Now I have a dedicated sewing space and being able to leave projects out means that I can easily sit down and sew whenever I have time - even if that's only for 20 minutes!

    I'm with ya on finding media to enjoy. I'll often work my way through the documentaries on Netflix (they're easy to listen to without having to watch too intently), but lately I've been really into the Thread Cult podcast. So fun to listen about sewing while sewing!

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  5. I use tv shows to gauge the time I've spent. I mostly sew late at night, so knowing another hour or half hour has passed helps me know when it is time to quit and go to bed. Otherwise, I have NO concept of time when sewing! ;)


    I also cut out multiple projects at one time so I can continue to sew without having to clear my sewing table in order to have a cutting table available. (My dining room is my sewing room.)

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  6. How wuld you be able to change the meausurements of a pattern. Like if you liked a pattern but they didnt have it in your size, howcould you make it into ur size?

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  7. I'm bookmarking this post. I've lost my sew-jo and am looking to get it back. Perfect timing.

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  8. As a very busy mom, I find it hard to find time to sew. One thing I like to do is get through a step a day on a printed pattern. That may sound lame, but I find that having a small goal is actually not so bad, even if it might take 2 weeks to get something done, at least it's getting done. And if I have a little bonus time to get extra steps done, so much the better!
    It helps that I have a dedicated "sewing space"- a small table in my messy bedroom. Not ideal, but I like having the stuff at hand.

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  9. I'm really interested in your patterns if you still have some.

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  10. Thanks for the tips! So when you say you cut out multiple projects at a time, do you label them? And is this done with patterns that you have made at least once?

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  11. Another indicator of knowing when to go to bed is when the sun comes up. ^^

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  12. I needed to read this post this morning! I'm in a sewing slump right now. I've got tons of inspiration, but not the time or energy to follow through with any of it. I'm sharing your post with Craft Gossip readers in a post scheduled for this evening:

    http://sewing.craftgossip.com/5-tips-for-finding-and-keeping-your-sewing-groove/2014/05/30/

    --Anne

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  13. I love this post. This has really put my sewing craft style into perspective. I really would like to add one more that you hinted on- create a space for sewing. I like your space pictured a lot. However, I'm sharing a cramped apartment space and I don't have an extra room. The moment I set up a tiny area in my living room to cut/sew without compromising the integrity of the rest of the space, I found that I got more excited to create! I feel that if you have a designated spot for just creating, projects won't just pile up unfinished and you can get to the 'hanger stage' quicker. Thanks again for inspiring!

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  14. Sewing SPACE, yes, so important!! I missed that one. That podcast sounds great!

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  15. Good point! I've also marked how long something took to complete by how many episodes of New Girl it took... ;)

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  16. Aw, thanks! Glad to help. "Sewjo" - love it!

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  17. I have a hard time stopping after just one step! But if you can physically sit down each time for a short while, that could work great! Doesn't sound lame!
    Sewing space is so important, too!

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  18. Thanks for sharing! That table sounds awesome.


    I don't label my projects, no, but I can usually remember which pattern they were from (although I never read the instructions or look at the pattern envelope again once I've cut something out from it). I do tend to stick to the same type of patterns/dress construction methods, though!

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  19. Aaw, thanks! So glad you enjoyed and thanks so much for sharing, Anne, I always love being on your site! =)

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  20. Absolutely, great point! I missed that very key element--dedicated space. When I've lived in smaller places before and had to keep the sewing machine in a closet, I almost never used it!


    So glad you enjoyed the post!

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  21. Oh, boy... I do, but I don't remember which ones! What kind are you interested in? Send me an email!

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  22. It is nice when patterns fit without modifications! I'd worry that you have to take out SO much in the back, though; you don't want to end up with the front piece disproportionately wider than the back. Maybe try cutting out a 10 next time and try it on at every stage just in case!

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  23. Wow, that's incredible! So interesting how policy is made. I'm not sure where she learned about the survey!

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  24. Definitely doable! Check out this post - you can measure the pieces minus the seam allowance to find the right widths. http://www.adventuresindressmaking.com/2010/08/sewing-circle-how-to-cut-out-right.html#.U4vCSvldV8E Also, most patterns will have a "lengthen/shorten here" line so you can make them longer or shorter at the right point.

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  25. Well, I've dandled around in my sewing "studio" this weekend -- and you've inspired me to make a sewing playlist. . .

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  26. Closet standard size is different than retail sizing. Patterns are in closet standard size. Google a chart to help convert.

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